4 Practices to Make Coaching Easy and Effective

This guest post by Marcia Reynolds, PsyD, Master Certified Coach, and author of Coach the Person, Not the Problem.


You don’t need years of training to help others discover solutions to their problems.

For 25 years, I have taught leaders to use a coaching approach in their conversations. They love the idea, and they think it is quicker to tell people what to do.

I disagree. I think it saves time to coach people to think more broadly for themselves. They become agile thinkers who don’t have to regularly go to their bosses for answers.

Add these four steps to your conversations to quickly change minds and behavior:

#1. Start by being curious.

Let them tell you the story behind the dilemma they are facing. Accept their perspective. 

Once they trust you won’t make them wrong, they will be open to explore how they can change their story.

#2. Share what you hear and notice.

Use reflective statements like summarizing and noticing shifts in facial gestures. Say things like, “So you are telling me . . .”

“Sounds like you feel they are doing this to you . . .” and

“You got quiet when you mentioned that. Can you tell me what you were thinking?” 

Replay what you hear and see so they can review the movie in their mind. 

#3. Find out what they want.

Ask how they would like the story to end. They may not know specifics, but they might define a destination they can move toward. Their goal could even be peace of mind.

There is always something in their control to change.

#4. Ask them to take one step.

When they start to see new possibilities, ask them to explain what they see. Then ask what they might do now. Get them to declare a next step to take within a specific time frame. 

Committing to at least one small step ensures progress and growth.

What makes coaching conversations effective?